Shlissel challah

The post-Pesach challah that's key for a blessed year to come

  • place PRE 20mins plus rising
  • place COOK 25-30 mins
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It is customary to bake a Shlissel (or Schtissel) challah to enjoy during the first Shabbat after Pesach. The word “shlissel” means key in Yiddish and shlissel challahs are baked in the shape of a key or with an actual key hidden inside. It ‘s hoped they bring good fortune and blessings to those who eat them and represent the key to the gates of the Promised Land.


  • Pour the lukewarm water into a large bowl, add the teaspoon of sugar then dissolve the yeast in the water. Once bubbles start to appear on the water’s surface, pour in about a third of the flour, the two eggs, the remaining sugar, salt and oil.
  • With your hands combine the mixture, adding more flour little by little as you go, until you get a big ball of dough. You will know when the dough is ready to knead because it won’t stick to your hands. You may not need all the flour, so just use what your own dough mixture needs.
  • Knead your dough for 5 – 10 minutes on a clean, flour-dusted work surface, adding a little flour if it gets too sticky again. Put the kneaded dough in the mixing bowl drizzled with a little sunflower oil and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for about 1 – 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it to knock the air out of it. Knead a little more on the floured work surface so it’s ready to shape. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a thin, flat rectangle, cut long thin strips of dough (about 3cm wide) with a sharp knife and plait the dough using three strands at a time. Make sure to hide a key wrapped in foil inside one of the plaits.
  • Shape the long plaits into a key shape. The dough can be shaped around small oven-proof dishes to serve dips in once the challah is baked. Carefully transfer to a baking parchment lined oven tray.
  • After shaping cover with a clean tea towel or cling film and let it rise again for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Towards the end of this time, pre-heat your oven to 180°C and prepare the egg wash.
  • Brush egg wash generously over the challah and sprinkle with different seeds on top of the challah in a pretty design.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes at the bottom of the oven. Check around 20 minutes and cover with foil if it’s getting too brown.
  • Serve with three different dips like pesto, sun-dried tomato tapenade and babaghanoush (aubergine).

Instagram: Allegra Benitah

First published in the Jewish Chronicle May 2 2019


1 - 1.5 kilos of plain flour (approx.)

360ml lukewarm water

40g fresh yeast (or 1 tbsp of active dried yeast)

4-6 tbsp caster sugar (plus 1 tsp to mix in with the yeast)

2 eggs, beaten (plus 1 egg yolk for the egg wash)

1 tbsp salt

60 ml sunflower oil

Seeds for decoration (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds)

Dips to serve of your choice

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